The Dix Hills Fire Department mourned the loss of ex-Chief and Commissioner Philip H. Tepe, who passed away suddenly on March 20, 2020, at the age of 71.
Chief Tepe was a very active and dedicated 52-year member of Engine Company Two, current Fire Commissioner and Suffolk County Deputy Coordinator for the Second Division. He served as Chief of the Department twice, first serving in the 1990s and returning to the Chief’s office in 2001 after the loss of Chief Terry Farrell on 9/11.
Tepe was a proud U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, worked for Grumman and then for the Suffolk County Department of Veterans Affairs, counseling veterans on services available for them. Tepe also served as commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1469. After retirement, he became a Fire Marshal for the Town of Huntington. As a Fire Coordinator, Tepe was an invaluable resource of knowledge to the chiefs on the fireground.
The Tepe family has been a big part of the department since the 1950s, when Tepe’s dad, Philip A. Tepe, joined the department and later became Chief. Phil’s son Brett is a third-generation firefighter and is currently the Second Assistant Chief.
Tragically, Tepe’s wife Toni passed away three weeks later after battling cancer. Tepe is survived by sons Philip Jr. and Brett, daughter Tiffany and grandchildren Blakely and Shane. Due to the Coronavirus crisis, funeral services were limited to family only, and the department is planning a memorial service to be held at a later date.
– Fire News story and photos by Steve Silverman
A message from Assistant Chief Brett Tepe on the passing of his father, ex-Chief Phil Tepe
To My Best Friend. Some people never met their hero, but I was lucky enough to be raised by mine. I do not know where to begin and I know this will never end. The sudden loss of my father, Chief Phil Tepe, has truly turned my life upside down and given me a feeling of loss like I’ve never experienced before. The thing everyone needs to know about my father was his genuine love and appreciation for all of you, our friends and family. We have had many long talks about the great men and women in his life and there was a genuine pride and adoration he took in each and every one of you, and I know you guys felt it. You are some of his greatest friends and he took a sincere interest in being a mentor and friend to so many of you, because he truly cared for you.
The outpouring of love and support my family has experienced since his passing has been comforting. We are all hurting together. We know everyone wishes they could do more and these crazy times have made this experience extra hard for all of us. It hurts us that you all couldn’t be with us to say our final goodbyes. I give you my word we will have a proper send off and one fitting of his service when this all settles itself out. We will honor him in due time and it will be a celebration of a decorated life that was fully lived.
The greatest passion in my father’s life was the Dix Hills Fire Department, His pride in this department was infectious and spread to anyone to whom he became close. My father is proud of the legacy he left behind, and the only thing he would want from any of us is to carry on in his honor, and be the best person that you can possibly be.
I am taking this day by day, but just wish to thank all of you for your support, My family appreciates all that has been said and done for us and all of the love shown to us. We are far from out of this darkness of grief but we know we have the far reaching arms of all of you around us.